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Cooking porterhouse without a grill.

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

I'm planning on making a porterhouse dish tomorrow and i think I have a good idea as to how to go about it. I'm thinking of searing them off in my saute pan in olive oil and finishing it in the oven, but I'm not sure about the oven temperature and cook time/doneness. I also don't have any good ideas for sides. I don't want to do the typical mashed potatoes or french fries thing. I'm thinking of something quick, and easy. Maybe involving mushrooms.

Any ideas and suggestions?

post #2 of 12
Thread Starter 

Also, I have some frozen beef stock on hand. Maybe I can make some kind of demi-glace mushroom sauce? Haha, I'm an amateur cook, so I'm not too keen on how food works yet.


P.S. Some of my dinner guests don't like butter or any dairy products for that matter.

post #3 of 12

i find that amusing...your guests don't like butter but will eat a pound of animal fat! 

how many steak are yo planning on cooking? how many guests? how big are the steaks? if you want simple simple, i think some sauteed mushrooms would be  perfect..with madeira or sherry or red wine if you have any of those....i wouldn't use olive oil to sear...the steaks have enough fat and imo is a waste of olive oil, would be overkill and make your kitchen really smokey...use a blended oil or oven to finish...time depends on how big the steaks are.....not my favorite way to cook steaks, but it's totally gotta really be on your mark as far as timing drinking til they're done or you're toast...unless of course you're a pro and can cook blind, stoned or drunk...remember, the first thing to go is judgement! first instinct is a whole roasted onion...maybe stuffed, maybe not,maybe just topped with some homemade breadcrumbs....sweet potato fries would be great...big like steak fries...a gratin of zucchini, summer squash and tomato...sounds fancy...waay easy...just a matter of slicing the vegetables and layering...drizzle with olive oil, herbs and parmesan...bake 45 minutes or this a casual kind of dinner with your frineds or people you don't know that well....friends are forgiving but brutal sometimes!


since you already have the oven on, any kind of roasted vegetable with whole garlic cloves...broccoli, asparagus....takes 10 minutes in a 400 degree oven tops....

food is like should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne


food is like should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

post #4 of 12

Whenever I cook steaks, I will have my oven ready at it's maximum heat. You may or may not need it.  Season your steak generously 2 hours before you intend to cook it, and let it sit out and come to room temperature. Obviously, somewhere safe where the dogs can't get it.  This will also dry out the surface so you can get a nice caramelized surface.  I am not a fan of that cross hatch bull S&#t, I want a nice even, crusty caramelized surface. Not wimpy little lines. So I'm happy you're not using a grill and I may tell you to use a flat, oven-safe skillet. Heat oil in it until it's smoking and add your steak. 3-5 minutes on each side will sear the outside nicely.  If the steak is still not at your desired done-ness, throw it into the oven, checking on it and flipping it every 2 minutes.


You can in advance, saute some dried mushrooms, shallots, garlic. once you've sweated them out deglaze the pan with whine. I prefer equal parts of burgundy and madeira. Then add your stock and a fistful of your favorite herbs and let that reduce way down. Then strain it through a fine sieve. If your sieve isn't very fine, use some cheese cloth.  the mushrooms may add grit which you will want to get out of your sauce. If you're interested in substituting the richness of dairy with marrow, additional instruction is required and will happily provide at your request. I dont see people afraid of dairy being thrilled about the idea of marrow, however.


lol a few key points of my advice are way different than durangojo.  I smoke up my entire house sometimes >_>

post #5 of 12

First off, forget cooking times. If you start obsessing about the clock you'll ruin the meat for sure. Steaks are done when they're done, not when a clock says they are.


To help determine degree of doneness: Gently touch your off-hand index finger and thumb together. Now press the ball that forms at the bass of your thumb. That's rare. Move to the middle finger. That's medium. Move to the ring finger. That's well done.


You don't need anymore than that to determine steak doneness.


Cook pretty much as Durangojo says. I prefer not using a lot of oil; barely enough to film the bottom of the skillet. Get the pan screaming hot, then drop in the steaks. Again, forget about the clock. They will initially stick to the pan. When they've seared properly they will release themselves. That's when you turn them.


If you like rare steak, and they're no more than an inch thick, you can probably finish them in the skillet. If not, transfer to a hot oven. It seems as though you're having guests, so cook the steaks from most done to least. That is, if anyone wants them well done, cook those first. Sear 'em and transfer to the oven. Then work on the mediums. By the time you cook the rares the well dones will be ready to go.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
post #6 of 12

Reverse sear. Cook in the LOW oven first to about 120 internal temp. Then sear off in cast iron pans, rest and serve.

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #7 of 12

The reverse searing method is more forgiving in terms of timing, but not any better if you can get the timing right.   As a side note, I can't begin to count or describe the altered states of consciousness in which I've managed to cook steaks perfectly well... er... perfectly mid rare.


When you use oil, butter or any other sort of fat in aid of searing, you use very, very little.  Less than you'd use for a saute.  You can sear in olive oil, no big deal; but I think durangojo is right -- good olive oil is wasted.   Butter is doable, but very difficult because it burns at such a low heat.


If you're doing a pan sauce with mushrooms, the suggestion to roast the mushrooms in a dry-ish pans before building the sauce is good.  You can use the same pan you used to pan roast the meat to pan roast the mushrooms.  More about the mushroom pan sauce later.


Preheat your oven to 375F.  You'd use a hotter oven in a pro kitchen, and Phatch would have you use a slower one.  The reason I like 375F for home cooks is because it's an easy temperature to time; figuring 12 minutes a pound to medium rare.  More about timing later.


You want to temp (allow them to come to near room temperature on the counter) your steaks before searing.  I like to do it in a splash of Worcestershire and red wine.  After the meat is temped, pour off any marinade and rub it with your favorite rub.  If you don't have one, you can try my "Basic Beef Rub."  I recently posted an espresso/cocoa variation here in CT you might like for this purpose.


Note that you want to avoid salting the meat -- which includes using a rub with salt -- until just before you cook it.


Preheat a heavy pan, large enough to hold your steaks without crowding, over a medium-high flame.  When the pan is hot enough to saute, pour a very little oil in the pan.  If the oil smokes, it's ready to go.  If it flows very freely, and has a little bit of shimmer floating over the simmer, it's also ready.  If it flows slowly and doesn't cover the pan surface completely, leaving little gaps and holes, it's not ready. 


If it's not ready, continue heating until the oil flows very freely.  You only need enough to barely cover the bottom of the pan, and when it's hot you can pour off any excess. 


Add the steak(s) to the pan.  Now, leave them the heck alone.  Don't touch them.   After two minutes shake the pan gently.  If the steak slides freely (i.e., "releases") it's ready to turn.  If not, it isn't.  Give it another 30 seconds and check again.  Then, another thirty seconds.  If, after 3 minutes it doesn't release, knock it sideways with your tongs or spat, and turn. 


For what it's worth, the "release point" tells you that the meat is perfectly seared.  More or less is less, if you catch my drift.


Sear the other side for 1 minute only, and put the steak in the oven.  The residual heat from the pan will continue to sear the bottom.  If you put it in the oven with a perfect sear, it will overcook and become hard during the roasting period.  But if the bottom's a little undercooked, so what?  Your steak only has one presentation side. 


Estimate how long you had the steak searing in the pan, and subtract that time from the 12 minute per pound total.  That's how long the steak needs to stay in the oven to hit mid-rare.  You can touch test if it you like (and you should, you always should) with two minutes left to go, then every two minutes thereafter.  For example, let's say you had one thick porterhouse, large enough for several people -- around 2-1/2 pounds.  The 12 min per pound rule nets 30 minutes total.  Subtract four minutes for the sear (if that's how long it took), and you get 26 minutes.  Start touch temping at 24 minutes.   If it's only a 1-1/4 pound steak, 15 - 4 = 11, so start testing at 9.


Make sure to touch temp both sides. 


If you don't know how to touch temp accurately, use an instant read meat thermometer and touch.  You'll calibrate your sense of touch a lot quicker than any of the comparison tricks (nose; ear, lip, nose; thumb muscle; etc.).  I'd rather see you use a thermometer than dance around grabbing your crotch and nose.  Remember touch temping is limited to relatively thin cuts of meat, you can't accurately touch temp a large roast. 


When the meat has an internal of 120 - 125 it's done.  Remove it to a separate plate to rest.  Depending on how thick they are, steaks should usually be rested for 7 - 12 minutes.


Return the pan to the flame and deglaze it with a splash brandy or madeira (if you can't get reasonably price madeira, an "off-dry" sherry like an Amontillado or dry Marsala are good substitutes).  I prefer brandy for this.  Scrape the fond off, and cook over medium-high until the liquid boils off. 


Add enough fat to the pan to saute.  You can use butter with a little oil (keeps the butter from burning), olive oil or a neutral oil.  It's up to you and your taste.  Add your aromatics.  I prefer straight, shallots, chopped very fine; but you may like onions, garlic, or some combination.  When the aromatics are fragrant, add your cleaned and dry sliced mushrooms.  Try and spread them in the pan evenly, in order to get some browning.  You only have one chance to brown mushrooms, because when you start stirring them they'll start releasing water, which will interfere with the browning reaction.


After about two minutes, turn the mushrooms.  If you can flip-turn, so much the better; but if you have to use your spat it's OK.  Now you may salt and pepper the mushrooms lightly. 


If you like, you can add about a tbs of tomato paste now, to help stiffen the eventual sauce as well as for taste.  If you do, move everything around in the pan so the paste cooks a little before you add the rest of the liquid.


Add a 50/50 mix of beef stock and Madeira, and a splash of Worcestershire, and cook the sauce down until it reaches the desired consistency.  For most people that's going to be a bit more than a 50% reduction; so measure the stock/wine mix into the pan accordingly.  When the sauce begins to show enough structure, add some chopped parsley, some fresh thyme, and other fresh herbs -- marjoram or tarragon for instance -- if you like.  Reserve some of the parsley.  Taste for salt, and adjust.


Plate the steak, pour the mushroom sauce over, and sprinkle with freshly chopped parsley and a few pieces of chive. You can also use a bit of lemon zest to brighten the flavors up, but I like my mushroom pan sauce on the mellow side.


It may seem like a lot, but that's only because it's so exhaustively broken down.  This is actually a fairly easy way of cooking steak at a high level. 


Good luck,


Edited by boar_d_laze - 11/29/11 at 7:33pm
post #8 of 12

As BDL said, you don't need very much oil.  I usually lightly oil the steaks, not the pan, then season the meat.


A quick side is asparagus done in the same pan.  When the steaks are done and resting comfortably, put the asparagus spears into the pan, moving them around frequently.  When about done [ I like mine on the al dente side ] deglaze with a healthy shot of soy sauce.  Serve with a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds.


Pan seared steaks and pan reduction sauces are actually quite simple once you've done a few.  Do you have time for a practice run to get a bit more comfortable with the techniques?




Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the advice guys! I only got to read a couple of them before I started cooking.


My steaks came out eh. Steak count was 4. Seared off two and put them in the oven for the two people that wanted well done at 375 degrees for 7 minutes, and they came out medium. Seared the other two with three-four minutes per side for medium rare, and they came out more rare than medium. I definitely under seasoned them. Just salt and pepper. I tried making a pan sauce with the fond, redwine, onions, green onions, garlic and beef stock, but it didn't come out too well. All in all, it was a very bleh dinner.

post #10 of 12

well, all i can say basilskite is that you should have listened closer to your elders! the advice you got here from ky and bdl was spot on....i have a few questions though, maybe to help you out your next go round....

what grade were your steaks? prime? choice? select? 

did you temp your steaks before searing? (bring them to room temperature)

did you use table salt and regular ground black pepper or kosher salt/sea salt and either cracked or fresh ground pepper? no way they are bleh, especially if you start with good meat

did you touch test your steaks for doneness? i'm curious as to why if the first 2 steaks were only at medium you didn't cook them longer...same thing with the second two? 

did you rest them?

what happened to the mushroom sauce? onions? interesting

what did you end up doing for sides?


sorry your meal was so bleh...hope you still had a swell time

for next time, perhaps a different cut..... like a new york...for lots of reasons(being smaller, they are more manageable overall....on the stovetop and in the oven, and a bit more forgiving) remember you are cooking 2 different cuts with a porterhouse. it does take some finesse to cook these steaks in the oven, but is totally doable...just perhpas not the best choice for a first timer!  people are very very picky about their steaks and how they are cooked.....

everyone loves lasagne!.....





Edited by durangojo - 12/2/11 at 10:25am

food is like should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne


food is like should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

post #11 of 12

Will that retain the juices better, Phatch?   I like the idea.   


I read somewhere that some sort of scientific tests were done on the "sear in the juices" first theory and it did not hold up.  In fact, meat that was not seared first had more juices (indicated by weight) than the ones that had been.   But for me, that thin coating of carmelization just cannot be sacrificed to juices.  I'd take it every time over juicy.


post #12 of 12

Juices isn't the issue as much as it is minimizing the gray band between the sear and the medium-rare center.


Yes, searing does not hold in juices, but it develops wonderful flavor and fond. Juiciness is more about picking a good cut, cooking it to the right temp and letting it rest before serving.


Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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